We can all help to prevent suicides

We can all help to prevent suicides

More lives are lost each year through suicide than through murder and war combined. Nearly one million people take their own lives across the world annually – an average of a death every 40 seconds.

World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 seeks to raise awareness of this devastating toll.

But what can you do if you’re feeling desperate – or know someone who is?

Students Against Depression provides proven, practical strategies for anyone struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

The website offers resources and support, as well as the company of student bloggers who share their experiences and what’s worked for them.

Desperate right now?

If you are feeling suicidal this is what to do:

  1. make a deal with yourself that you will not act yet.
  2. tell someone else how you are feeling or find someone to be with you.
  3. if that is not possible right now call one of the all-hours numbers on this page.

There is more advice on how to stay safe on this page. Remember, many people who have attempted suicide look back with gratitude that they were not successful.

Surviving suicidal thoughts

Suicidal intentions are prompted by a desperate need for relief from intensely painful feelings.

To survive, you need to find other ways to secure that relief. This is why it’s a good idea to make a safety plan, including things like:

  1. tell someone how you’re feeling – be prepared for non-professionals to be shocked, and don’t expect a ‘perfect’ response. It is always better to make human contact than to stay alone with your thoughts.
  2. reduce the risks – protect yourself from impulsively acting on your thoughts by putting dangerous objects such as pills or weapons out of immediate reach.
  3. minimise time spent alone – depression thrives in isolation. Try to minimise time spent alone – take work to the library, ask friends to be with you at vulnerable times, make plans ahead for weekends.

For more strategies, go to Surviving suicidal thoughts.

Worried about someone?

There are things you can do to help someone who is struggling to overcome suicidal thoughts. Here are three:

  1. Communicate your concern – letting the person know you are worried could be a key first step in breaking their isolation.
  2. Encourage professional help – work with the person to identify and approach the available sources of local help – the university health centre, nearest GP doctor, counselling service and student union welfare.
  3. Offer practical, day-to-day support – this could be something as simple as making a regular arrangement for coffee, a walk or a phone call.

For other ways to help, see our page Worried about someone?

We can make a difference on World Suicide Prevention Day.